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Shaquil Barrett is no ‘one-year wonder’ and more from NFL scouting combine

Mitch Wilcox says lack of production may hurt his draft status, Joe Burrow would play for Bengals and more
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. [PAUL SANCYA  |  AP]
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Detroit. [PAUL SANCYA | AP]

INDIANAPOLIS — The Bucs are all in on linebacker Shaquil Barrett and ready to use the franchise tag on him if necessary.

Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Bucs general manager Jason Licht was expected to meet with Barrett’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, at the NFL scouting combine this week.

The franchise player value for an outside linebacker is about $16 million. It’s $18 million for a defensive end. Prior had only 14 career sacks before signing a one-year, $4-million contract with the Bucs as a free agent.

“You don’t get 19.5 by being a one-year wonder,’’ coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s not a fly-by-night guy. It’s going to real for a long time.’’

Joe Burrow is ready to be welcomed to the jungle

The LSU quarterback and presumptive No. 1 overall pick is fine with going from the Bayou Bengals to the Cincinnati Bengals. He simply didn’t want to assume he had already earned that opportunity.

“I'll play for whoever drafts me," Burrow said Tuesday from the NFL scouting combine. "I'm just not going to be presumptuous about what they want to do. It's the draft. You guys have been covering it for a long time. You never know what's going to happen."

A few things have created that misperception about his possible preference not to be drafted by Cincinnati.

First, his comments mentioning “leverage’’ sounded as if he felt he had a choice where to be drafted. Finally, he hired Carson Palmer’s brother, Jordan, to be his quarterback coach. Carson Palmer has blasted the Bengals organization, where he languished for seven seasons.

Burrow said Tuesday the leverage he was referring to was how to handle the combine. It involved decisions about whether to throw (he’s not) or wait until his pro day.

"The only thing I've said is I didn't want to be presumptuous about the pick," Burrow said. "So, that's why I've been noncommittal, because I don't know what's going to happen. They might not pick me. They might fall in love with someone else. You guys kind of took that narrative and ran with it. There has never been anything like that from my end."

And if the Bengals take him No. 1?

“I'm not going to not play,’’ he said. “I'm a ballplayer. Whoever picks me, I'm going to show up," he said.

Pittman says his dad doesn’t talk about his Bucs career with Bucs

Bucs fans remember running back Michael Pittman, who was the starting tailback who rushed for over 100 yards in the Super Bowl 37 win over the Raiders.

His son, Michael Pittman Jr., is four inches taller at 6-4 and a wide receiver who starred at Southern Cal. He’s coming off a stellar season in which he caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Trojans. The best advice his dad ever gave him?

“You can never hurt yourself by working as hard as possible because even if you work hard and fail, you know I did everything by working,’’ Pittman said.

Pittman said his father doesn’t talk much about his career. “He focuses on just raising us kids.’’

Pittman said his game most resembles that of Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Brandon Marshall. But he hates comparison. “I just want to be the best Michael Pittman I can be,’’ he said.

USF’s Wilcox acknowledges ‘dip in production’

Tight end Mitch Wilcox holds every major Bulls receiving record for his position. But he admitted the minimal targets he got last fall (resulting in only 28 catches) didn’t help his draft status.

“I think a dip in production is never good for anyone, but I think I always tried to go in there and affect the game the best I could no matter what I was doing,” said Wilcox, USF’s all-time leader in receptions (100), receiving yards (1,326) and touchdown catches (11) by a tight end.

“Obviously (a 4-8 season) wasn’t the result that my team wanted and the organization wanted, but I took a lot from it as far as progression and development for me and my mental game. So there’s a lot of good takeaways I can still take from it.”

Tua Tagovailoa will be ready for his pro day

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Tuesday his recovery from a season-ending hip injury has been a grind, but he plans to be cleared to resume full workouts March 9.

He plans to have a personal workout for scouts exactly one month later.

“Mentally it’s been a grind, but it’s not something that’s new to me. I’ve dealt with a hand injury, my left ankle, my right ankle. So I sort of knew what to expect going through this process,” Tagovailoa said.

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